22 September 2011

[cross-post] Cafe au Lait!

NOTE: This is a cross-post from the RONJ-BLOG where I wondered what was the difference between cafe au lait and cafe latte.

I probably first encountered the term latte upon the advent of a certain "coffee drink restaurant" called Starbucks, ca. 1998, in Manila. Probably not because of that "coffee drink restaurant" per se, but nonetheless that was one event I can associate with our eyes being opened back then to coffee other than Nescafe and Folgers and some other instant coffee brands from the US that balikbayans brought back home. Of course at that time, coffee shops like The Coffee Beanery from the Cravings Group helped Starbuko to somewhat co-educate us as well.

Anyway, it was obvious what latte was from the sound, probably because of us Filipinos having a bit of English and Spanish language backgrounds, and being attached to cafe. Latte sounded like leche, maybe? Obvious to us also was that the lattes had espresso and so on, which some people likewise did not hear of before (I remember back in around 2005 a friend ordered espresso - as in one shot - and then throwing it away after one sip). Of course, these coffee shops mostly had espresso-based drinks.

And then I came to live for 3 years in Japan. I then first encountered the term cafe au lait and again lait, from its sound, obviously means milk. Au probably means and? At first I also thought that au lait was pronounced oh laht. But then, I'd see some Japanese labels that read something like kafe oreh. I also thought at first that the Japanese were just referring to cafe latte in their fancy Japanese English as Cafe Olé, just as they call Asia Ahjiah instead of Ehshia, and cabbage kyabets instead of kabej, and sometimes hamburger as just simply hambahg. But okay, yeah, it's actually cafe au lait (pronounced like Olé). So all this time, I've been buying cafe au lait.

Anyway, so yeah I thought cafe au lait and cafe latte was the same, whereas the former was the norm here. And then I found two kinds of Nescafe (of all things!) at the supermarket: a cafe au lait and a cafe latte! So only then it became obvious to me that those two have some differences. I found the latte better suited my taste though. And so I got curious. Then, I googled it up. From CoffeeAndTeaTime.com:
"Cafe au Lait and Cafe Latte are indeed different. Cafe au lait is actually equal parts of regular coffee and hot milk. A cafe latte is made with 1/3 espresso and 2/3’s hot steamed milk. A cafe latte generally does not have a milk froth top. Sugar is generally not added to a caffe latte but those who prefer sweetened coffee will often add it to cafe au lait."
There you have it. So I'm a cafe latte guy, but with a little hint of sugar, please.

By the way, by definition, both au lait and latte don't usually come with sugar. But here, everything does. Just like in the Philippines. But even the corn flakes (they're always frosted or flavored)! But no, unlike the Philippines, cold tea drinks aren't normally sweetened.

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